BEER giant Brewdog has won a court battle over its plans to open a new bar in Micklegate.

The Scottish brewery and pub chain wants to open in 130-134 Micklegate, in the old Portfolio Studios site, and is now free to do so.

City of York Council had granted planning permission and granted a licence, but local resident and restaurant owner Clarissa O'Callaghan had taken the case to magistrates.

On Friday afternoon, after a second dramatic day in court, magistrates dismissed Ms O'Callaghan's appeal, meaning a victory for Brewdog.

In court on Friday, it was claimed the Scottish firm acted like Harry Enfield's teenager Kevin. Ms O'Callaghan's barrister Gerald Gouriet QC likened Brewdog to the comedian's famously stroppy character Kevin.

Brewdog says most of its customers in York would be over 25 and less likely to behave badly.

York Press:

Brewdog will open in 130-134 Micklegate

But Mr Gouriet said other pub goers who may cause trouble, would still attend the bar, especially due to Brewdog's confrontational marketing approach.

He said: "It's no surprise that you get these others turning up as well as the bearded aficionados because of the way they advertise."

The way Brewdog had responded to rulings by the Advertising Standards Agency and the Portman Group against its promotions was "shouting disrespect," claimed Mr Gouriet.

He added: "It's the Harry Enfield teenager. It's the response of an irresponsible person."

Brewdog bar hunter Stephen Hogan replied: "That's not how we act in our licensed premises."

Delivering their verdict, chairman of the bench Penny Curry said: "We do not find the decision wrong and therefore dismiss the appeal. We will forward written reasons in a few weeks."

Micklegate falls inside York's Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) set up to stop alcohol-related anti-social behaviour.

But Brewdog was given a licence in November after the council was satisfied the bar would not have a negative impact on the area.

Mr Hogan did not want to comment on Brewdog's victory at this stage.

But Ms O'Callaghan said: "It's an unsurprising decision given the context of the seemingly changing mindset of York's council and police towards the CIZ.

"It's a sad day for residents where legitimate and serious concerns about antisocial behaviour and the impact on York's night time economy are outweighed by the commercial imperative to fill an empty shop.

"With this decision the CIZ is dead in the water and any bar that can show it's a decent operator will now seek to take over York's empty shops."

Ms O'Callaghan, who is also a solicitor, will now decide whether to launch a further legal challenge.

Friday's proceedings also saw Mr Gouriet claim the information Brewdog supplied to the council for the November hearing had been misleading.

Referring to how the firm described its food offering, he said: "It has been worded to give an impression that's an exaggeration of the truth."

The company wanted to suggest its York bar would be more food-based than was the case, Mr Gouriet said.

Mr Hogan said: "We operate 29 licensed premises with no issues.

"I have absolutely no reason to be ashamed of our trading history."

He added: "There's absolutely no intention to be dishonest and to mislead anyone."

Brewdog was criticised for not contacting local residents and businesses about its plans.

Mr Hogan said the firm had gone beyond all its statutory commitments.

"We used our best endeavours to get in touch with as many people in the area as possible," he said.

"I apologise if people feel they have been ripped of the opportunity to talk to us."

Mr Hogan was asked by Brewdog's barrister Philip Kolvin if the company had received any complaints about the loutish behaviour alleged by Mr Gouriet.

He replied: "I have never had any comments on those lines whatsoever."

Paul Douglas, a private investigator hired by Brewdog, contradicted some of the evidence put forward by Darrell Butterworth, who had been investigating the company's bar on behalf of Ms O'Callaghan.

Mr Butterworth had told the court a drunk woman had to be carried out of Brewdog's Manchester bar.

But Mr Douglas said: "It is clear the person on the CCTV was escorted. She was not carried out."

Mr Douglas added that the Manchester bars Mr Butterworth had compared Brewdog to were not a valid comparison.

The council's barrister Gary Grant said the magistrates needed to decide whether the original decision had been made in the public interest.

To accept the appeal, they had to be sure the decision was wrong rather than not being satisfied it was right.

He added: "Simply bringing more people into Micklegate is not itself necessarily an addition to the Cumulative Impact Zone."

The council's licensing manager Lesley Cooke confirmed all procedures had been correctly applied during the November hearing and that the councillors on the committee were experienced.


  • Opponent hired private detective to scout Brewdog's bars
  • He reported woman in Manchester "as drunk as anybody I have seen in licensed premises"
  • Firm responded by hiring its own inspector and hits back 
  • Beer firm is accused in court of encouraging a lack of respect for authority
  • Brewdog's legal rep says customers will think "Crikey, it's pricey"

A BREWERY'S bid to open a bar in Micklegate in York is bound to add to the street's alcohol problems, a court heard.

Brewdog's licence was challenged at York Magistrates Court on Thursday by Clarissa O'Callaghan, who is a resident and restaurant owner on the street.

Ms O'Callaghan, who owns Rattle Owl, is appealing against City of York Council's decision to grant Brewdog an alcohol licence for the former Portfolio Studios shop at 130-134 Micklegate.

The Scottish firm's scheme faced opposition because the site falls inside the Cumulative Impact Zone (CIZ) set up to stop alcohol-related antisocial behaviour.

But it was given a licence in November after the council was satisfied the bar, which is due to open in May, would not have a negative impact on the area.

Ms O'Callaghan, who is also a solicitor, is challenging that ruling, which she says is not in line with other council decisions.

Her barrister Gerald Gouriet QC told magistrates: "It's surely inevitable that any pub is going to add to some degree to the problems in Micklegate.

"If you find that Brewdog will add to the cumulative impact in the area then the licence should be refused."

Mr Gouriet added: "It is not suggested that the proposed premises will be badly run or that there will be significant problems inside.

"The complaint is about what will spill into the area and cause problems elsewhere.

"They will be one of the drips that cumulatively causes the problems in the wider area."

York Press: The Rattle Owl restaurant and shop in Micklegate Picture: David Harrison

Rattle Owl restaurant in Micklegate

Asking Brewdog whether the bar would add to Micklegate's alcohol problems, he said: "Why on earth won't you?

"Any pub, no matter how well run, is bound to."

The court heard Ms O'Callaghan had instructed independent licensing consultant and former police officer Darrell Butterworth to investigate Brewdog's bars elsewhere in the UK, which he did without financial gain.

On receiving Mr Butterworth's evidence, Brewdog employed another private investigator, Paul Douglas, to carry out his own checks on the bars.

Defending Mr Butterworth's reports, which Brewdog will challenge, Mr Gouriet said: "He's not in the pay of anybody. What conceivable reason would he have for not telling it as it is?"

York Press:

Police in Micklegate (library image)

Brewdog's barrister Philip Kolvin QC said Mr Butterworth had visited only six of the company's 29 UK bars, so did not have an accurate picture.

"You've not visited 23 of the bars and therefore you are not in a position to check what Brewdog says about 23 of its bars," he said.

Mr Kolvin said the licensing objectives the bars needed to meet were the protection of children, not endangering public safety, the prevention of public nuisance and the prevention of crime and disorder.

He asked Mr Butterworth whether any harm had been done to these objectives at the Brewdog bars he had visited.

Mr Butterworth said he only found harm during one of his visits to the firm's Manchester bar.

On that visit, he saw a woman customer vomit inside the bar.

"She was as drunk as anybody I have seen in licensed premises," he said.

Mr Kolvin said Brewdog would be far more expensive than other bars on Micklegate, so would not attract customers who would cause problems outside.

He said: "You won't go into a Brewdog bar thinking I can neck six shots for a fiver. You would be thinking crikey, it's pricey."

The court also heard from local residents supporting Ms O'Callaghan's appeal.

One of them, Douglas Chalmers, said: "I'm concerned that a bar with a capacity of 150 people will generate more problems on the street."

Resident and former city councillor Ben Hudson said: "Brewdog can't control those that cause havoc on the streets."

The antisocial behaviour of drinkers meant his daughters weren't comfortable walking on Micklegate at night, he said.

He added: "You have the vomit and the urine. If you ask them to stop, they say no."

Mr Gouriet told the court of expletive-laden responses Brewdog had given to rulings by the Advertising Standards Agency and the Portman Group against some of the publicity for its beers.

He said: "Our concern is that this possibly encourages Brewdog's customers to have no respect for authority.

"It tells us something about Brewdog's customers that this is how they speak to them."

Ms O'Callaghan said: "At the start I had nothing against Brewdog as an operator, but I certainly think given how it has continued as an operator, I do now have something against Brewdog."

She had herself visited Brewdog bars in Shoreditch, Camden and Liverpool to investigate the company.

Ms O'Callaghan was asked by the council's barrister Gary Grant whether her appeal had any commercial motivation as a potential rival business that sold craft beer in its shop.

She replied: "No, we are a very different offering."

Asked to confirm that by Mr Gouriet, she said "There's no foundation" and added that she only made £100 a week from craft beers.

  • The hearing continues on Friday.